CXO 3-Year Anniversary Chat Panel Discussion

Today I joined a panel of other customer experience professionals for a discussion about the digital customer experience. When available, I’ll link to the full discussion, but until then, here are the questions and some of my responses.

Intro: Brian has been designing customer experiences online & offline for 12 years, 7 at a church & 5 running a small business. Most recently, Brian is the founder/CEO of tech startup @WeDo, a collaboration platform for wedding planning, launching this summer.

  1. How do you utilize digital channels to engage and re-engage connected customers?

    1. Digital is like beer. It is the cause and cure for most of a company’s customer experience problems. #cxo

    2. The beauty and curse of digital is its omnipresence in the lives of our customers.

    3. We use SoMe more to maintain relationships than building new ones. We use email primarily to drive new and repeat business.

    4. At @WeDo we’re building a platform that will take business/customer engagement to the next level, collaboration.

  2. Can digital channels be used to deepen customer relationships?

    1. The beauty of SoMe is the ability to present, with permission, in between F2F business. Deepens relationships, drives referrals.

    2. Be careful. The difference between listening and eavesdropping is presence and permission. Listen, but don’t eaves drop.
  3. How can you ensure digital customer feedback is collected in real time and utilized across all touch points?

    1. There’s an assumption in this question that you need/want to. That’s a business decision. Having said that …

    2. If by feedback we mean user inputs, we can use real-time inputs such as location and history to inform dynamic outputs.

    3. Real-time user feedback data can be used for creating dynamic experiences.
  4. What must businesses do to ensure relevant content, offerings and solutions for digital channels?

    1. Know the culture and user approach to every channel utilized.

  5. How can businesses seamlessly integrate digital with other channels to enhance customer experience?

    1. Seamlessly integrating digital is a way of thinking. Digital channels answer “where & how” not “why.”

    2. We need to stop thinking in channels. Our customers don’t, so why should we? Customers are channel agnostic.

  6. Where does big data fit in the digital customer experience equation?

    1. (1/2) If experiences are created by intentionally manipulating an environment to achieve a desired outcome…

    2. (2/2) #BigData gives us personalized insight that allows for individualized environments to drive specific outcomes.

  7. What is the role of IT in digital customer experience strategies?

    1. The role of IT is to build platforms that let the technology get out of the way of the desired experience.

  8. Which organizations are succeeding with digital experiences and what can we learn from them?

    1. There’s a restaurant here in #MKE, @ajbombers, that has done a fantastic job using Twitter to make fans instead of patrons.

    2. They use it for interacting with fans who are both in the restaurant or just conversing with or mentioning with them.

  9. With the proliferation of digital channels, what does the customer experience of 2020 look like?

    1. By 2020, seamless mobile experiences should be the baseline from which personalized experiences are built.

    2. By 2024, that baseline should be shifting to predictive experiences.

The Future is in the Palm of Your Hand

It’s no secret that mobile is taking over everything digital, but what are the numbers? What does that take over look like? Vala Afshar and Ali Kafel of ExtremeNetworks have compiled this amazing deck of stats. Each stat is referenced with a link at the bottom of each slide.

Customer Experience is the Currency of Loyalty

Experience is the currency of loyalty. Your business “earns” loyalty credits when you provide good, great, and remarkable experiences for your customers. The more you do that, the more loyalty you get. You “spend” loyalty credits with bad experiences, whether your fault or not.

This concept turns the entire idea of loyalty programs on its head. In reality, customers aren’t the ones earning points. You are.

Is JCPenny your favorite store?

Just a few thoughts, randomly shared.

A couple weeks ago I was in the Twin Cities for a wedding and needed to get a couple of last-minute clothing items for three of my kids.  After unsuccessful trips to a handful of stores I found myself at the JC Penny at Rosedale Mall. Although I hadn’t been in one in years, I had heard about some of the changes that were being made.  Not only did we receive fantastic service in the children’s department,  I found a vest for myself. This is noteworthy because not only was I not shopping for a vest, but I have never owned a vest. Surprisingly, it suited me well.  At least that’s what my wife said 🙂 Although the vest wasn’t on sale, I didn’t feel like the retail price was inflated. I was happy to pay the price on the tag.  The store still seemed a little dated, but I could tell they were headed in the right direction.  I know major change takes time.

Fast forward 2 weeks.

I was recounting this experience and decided to do a bit of research.

I was just watching Ron Johnson’s presentation to JCP investors a year ago announcing his bold new plan for reinventing Penny’s. I didn’t intend to watch the whole thing, but he was so compelling, I really just couldn’t stop. I wouldn’t even begin to review the 90 minute presentation, but a handful of ideas jumped out at me.  His main contention was that, among other things, JCP (and department stores as a whole) has been abusing their customers with their dishonest pricing strategy and a preponderance of  promotions and that customers see right through it all.  A major change was needed.  Sure, he had charts of data proving his points (a necessary detail for investors), but at the heart of his message was the customer experience . Here are a few quotes…

“the customer knows the right price”

“to think you can fool a customer is just crazy”

“every time we [discount], we’re not discounting our product; we’re discounting our brand”

“if you don’t trust your customer, that’s a major gap before you even get her in the door”

I don’t know if I entirely agree with his pricing/promotion premise for the industry, but his statements about trusting customers is spot on. Other retailers such as Kohl’s have been very successful with the promotional model without sacrificing the customer relationship. I think JCP just did it poorly.  While every retailer might not need to go to the extremes Johnson lays out for Penny’s, I think for them, it’s probably the right move; they’ve eroded a lot of trust.

It worked on me.

He also mentioned one other goal. Simple, but lofty – “we want to be your favorite store.”

I love the use of the word favorite.

It’s emotional. It’s exclusive.  It’s relational. It’s familiar. It’s experiential.

It’s personal.

This is very much a long term strategy (4 years as planned), as all customer experience driven initiatives are. Unfortunately, wall street judges companies by short term performance.  So a year later, with their stock price half of what it was a year ago and revenues expected to be down about 28%, Johnson is going to be taking some heat.  He’s either going to shift the strategy to placate shareholders, or he’ll double down and remind investors that the yellow brick road of transformation leads through a valley before reaching the next peak.

I hope he does the latter.

On this one-year anniversary, what has been your experience at JCPenny?

Is it now your favorite store?


Your company needs a Customer Experience Director

Just as your company needs leadership in each of its core functional areas, the current competitive business environment demands that your company have a leader responsible for and dedicated to ensuring a consistent, optimal customer experience. You need a Customer Experience Director (CXD).

So what exactly does a CXD do?

The CXD is a leadership role that acts as an ambassador for a customer-centric CEO insuring that all customer touch points maintain alignment with a strategically optimized, intentional customer experience. Although each of the following areas would typically maintain existing reporting structures, the CXD would work with them to implement, maintain, and continually improve the overall customer experience strategy.

The Customer Experience Director unifies …


  • Strategy, collateral, events, website user experience, retail environment/process, analytics, PR

Relationship/brand management

  • CRM system, social media presence, customer analytics, Net Promoter implementation


  • Customer process flow, product/service user experience, product design, production elements that are related to the customer experience, product use and maintenance collateral


  • Inside/Outside Sales staff, retail associates, call center, and other customer facing roles

Post-sale (Service/Support)

  • Call center, service/support techs, website, and other customer facing roles

Business Support Departments (Acct, HR, IT, Legal)

  • Billing and collection methods
  • Customer-centric employee culture development
  • Any customer facing tools or systems
  • Doing legal through a customer focus rather than through a litigious focus whenever possible.


This is by no means exhaustive. If you are a CX professional and would like to add to this, simply add your thoughts or contribute dialog in the comments below.

Head for Rent

When times are tough, some people donate plasma. Others, sell kidneys.  Some, in desperation, even sell their souls. For me, plasma donation doesn’t pay enough, somebody stole one of my kidneys (a long story that ends in an ice-filled bathtub), and my soul is already held by the IRS as collateral.  In light of this and the need to feed my children,

I have decided to rent out my head.

Yes. My head is for rent. All of it. Although not very attractive, large or noticeable, it is quite useful. I considered making ad space available on it , but since my head is often covered by my trademark hat*, I’m thinking that’s not the best strategy.  With that off the table, that leaves my eyes, ears, nose, brain, and mouth. Although available separately these parts tend to function best as a whole.  I highly recommend the full head.

My eyes are available to help you take a fresh look at your business from a new perspective (perhaps your customers’). As a manager or business owner, it can be really tough to change your perspective.  You have the “curse of knowledge.” It’s tough to un-know something to help you take a fresh look at your business.  I can do that for you and put it in terms you can understand.

My ears are available to help you listen to the people who make your business what it is–your customers, potential customers, and employees. Whether through interviewing, surveying, or engaging on social media channels, I can help you listen with new ears.

My nose is available to help you sniff out trouble. You may need a process tweak (or overhaul), some new tech tools, or a new way to manage information. You may need to deal with customer or employee issues. I can help you find the stinky parts of your business that are holding you back.

My brain is available to help you solve problems and craft strategy. Creative problem solving is in my blood (included at no extra charge), and I eat and breathe strategy of all kinds (mouth and nose required). I can help you design a customer experience strategy that encompasses everything from marketing, through operations, to customer service.

My mouth is available to help you spread the word.  Whether through website management, sales and marketing, or public speaking, I can help you communicate your brand in a fresh, new way.

All of this, of course, comes at a price.  

To me, my head is priceless.  I don’t know what I’ll do without it. For me to give up use of my own head for my own purposes requires a great deal of sacrifice. Not only have I grown quite attached to it, but I’ve spent many years developing it.  My eyesight is sharp; my ears are keen; my nose, large; my mouth, loud; and my brain, growing.

My head, whether in part or in its entirety (recommended) can be rented on an hourly, monthly, project, or semi-permanent basis.  Please inquire for hourly, monthly, or project rates. If you’d like the use of my head on a full-time basis in your company, make me an offer I can’t refuse.**


* Under no circumstances is the hat for rent or included. It’s mine. Hands off.
** Threatening, Godfather-ish, headless-horse-type offers will not be considered.




The Return Process and Customer Loyalty

Yesterday, two juxtaposed shopping experiences at Bayshore Mall brought to light the effect of a return process on the customer experience. The result was perhaps a little surprising.

Rewind to Black Friday. My wife and I were looking for a pair of semi-dressy, medium heeled, black leather boots for her to wear with a new dress. She wasn’t wearing the dress while shopping, so we were doing our best to imagine what the boots would look like with the  dress. We found a a nice pair on sale for around $100 at Boston Store and debated our purchase. Ultimately, we decided we liked them enough to warrant taking them home to see how they worked with the dress. If they didn’t work, we’d just bring them back. The buying experience was rather chaotic due to being Black Friday, but with our expectations lowered, we were generally satisfied with the experience.  As a side note, we also liked a pair of boots just down the hall at Ma Jolie, but knowing their “exchange only” no return policy, we didn’t even bother taking them home.

The boots didn’t work with the dress. The dreaded return was imminent.

With a potential need for the boots on the horizon, we decided to embark on the return process yesterday—a mere two days after purchase (surely a personal best).  Although I knew I had it somewhere, I wasn’t able to easily locate the receipt. Honestly, I didn’t try too hard to find it.  I figured a nice, mid-scale department store like Boston Store would surely have the ability to retrieve my purchase info with my credit card.  Being in return mode, we also grabbed three other items that had been gathering dust to go back to Kohl’s.

I arrived at the Boston Store shoe counter with assumptions and boots, but no receipt in hand. I was informed that without a receipt I could only exchange the boots or receive a store credit for the lowest sale price—a common practice in days gone by, but in the current retail environment, an unexpected response.  I asked if there was some way for them to look up my transaction with my credit card.  “No, I’m sorry, sir. We need a receipt” came the reply. After pausing for a moment to think, I decided to hang on to the boots and see how Anna was coming in  quest for a replacement.  After a cursory tour of their very large selection, a suitable replacement was not apparent. By this point I had determined that since we wouldn’t need to exchange them, and that I really didn’t want a store credit, that I would go home and make a concerted effort to find the receipt.  After all, I hadn’t really looked that hard. Excepting the items that came with us, we left empty-handed.

On to stop two, returns next door at Kohl’s.

Three items were to be returned.  One had a receipt; a hat purchased on clearance with a gift card a couple weeks prior.  Two were sans receipt; a boy’s shirt purchased with a gift card about 2 months prior, and pair of girls winter boots purchased with a debit card about 2 weeks prior. The receipted return was a slam dunk. Cash in hand.  Most stores could get that one right.  For the non-receipted boots, the associate asked for the credit card that was used to purchase them, and few keystrokes later she was handing us cash back (it was a debit transaction).  The only part of that return experience that I could not have predicted was the boy’s shirt.  I don’t often use gift cards there. With no credit card to track back to, and no receipt, I thought I would surely get a very little in return as a store credit.  The associate asked when I purchased it and how much I paid; “I don’t know exactly. Probably a couple months back, and it was around twenty bucks.” The price tag read $34. She scanned the tag and replied, “Does $25.39 sound about right?” It rung a bell. “Sure, that works.” After viewing my driver’s license, she handed me a thin plastic card labeled Merchandise Credit with the credit amount written in sharpie on the back. With about $75 in credit and cash in hand, we proceeded to shop.  Guess what? We found boots for Anna. We also found a really cute pair of boots for my daughter (not a replacement for the returned ones) and some Christmas ornaments totaling just over $100. Remembering that I had a coupon at home, I left Anna at the store, went home, and picked up my 15% off coupon. While there I took a quick peek in my coat pocket and found the Boston Store receipt for the boots. I returned to Kohl’s and left having spent about $90. I returned to Boston Store, returned the boots, and left having realized the impact of process on the customer experience

So, who has a bad process and who has our money?

As a regular Kohl’s customer, I have become accustomed to returning items without a receipt. I just bring my item to the customer service desk, show them the credit card that I used to purchase the item, and they pull up the transaction information based on the credit card that was used. It’s really a pretty simple concept to be able to track transactions back to credit cards; why don’t more retailers do this?

Granted, Kohl’s takes this idea one step further with a very generous, no hassle return policy. I’ll admit, I return things there more often there than I do anywhere else. Why? because I buy more. It’s my first stop every time I need something they might carry. More often than not, I find what I need and keep it; however, I know that when I buy something that doesn’t fit my needs when I get home, I won’t have any trouble bringing it back….when I get around to it … 32 days later. You see, we are terrible about returns, as I’m guessing you are. Most people are. This weakness is exactly what other merchants exploit to their advantage. But at what cost?

So, Boston Store, I can certainly understand needing proof of purchase.  I even understand limitations on returns.  I understand that modernizing Bon-Ton’s expansive corporate POS system to allow transaction data to be recalled by CC could be a large and expensive endeavor. I understand that you have your process and policies for a reason.  I can understand all these things, . . . and shop at Kohl’s.


Remarkability: The Cure for the Common Business

Used under Creative Commons | flikr | akk_rusAs a go about my business of being a customer, I have noticed one very remarkable trait common to most business—a remarkable lack of remarkability. There’s nothing going on there that makes me want to tell other people about them. They’re just, well, so… common. Do you want people to talk about your business? Give them something to talk about!

Webster defines remarkability as “the quality or state of being remarkable.” Although in a strict sense that might be true, I believe that in the noise of modern society remarkability is not a state: it’s an ongoing pursuit. What is remarkable today may not be next year. In business the number one thing we are competing for is the attention of our potential customers. It’s us against every other thing in their life. In order to even make a blip on the radar of our customer’s mind we must stand out.

So what gets people talking?

There are many ways, but here are a few ideas:

Constructive Disruption

Do something out of the ordinary that serves a purpose. Kids love getting mail, right? But do they ever get it from their photographer? Children’s photographer Anna Mayer knows that her relationship with the kids she’s photographing is a key element to capturing that child’s personality. Sometimes kids, particularly those between 2-6, can have a hard time “warming up” even though she is very much a kid person. In order to address this Anna has taken the proactive approach of learning about each child, buying them a personal little gift, and sending it to them in the mail with an invitation to their photo shoot. The kids love it and can’t wait for their shoot!

Need Prediction or The Pleasant Surprise

Be two steps ahead of your customer, offering a solution to a problem they didn’t even know they had. One could write an entire book about how Steve Jobs did this on a grand, product-level scale at Apple, yet need prediction, does not require such a grand scale. More often than not, the best need predictions are small, ergo a pleasant surprise. They are the details that when executed properly elicit a “huh, that was cool” type of response. For instance, last week at my local Village Ace hardware store, I needed to buy a chain for a chainsaw. Homi (yes that’s his real name) not only guided me to what he thought was the correct chain, but he went a step further than expected. Knowing that, unassisted, many people buy the wrong part the first time, he took the initiative to open the package, remove the chain, and lay it side by side with the old one I had along to ensure that I was taking home the right chain. Was that a huge gesture? Is it going to change business as we know it? No, but it was worthy of remark. What’s most remarkable is that this is not an isolated incident in that store.  It’s little things like that that happen at that store all the time that have me singing its praises.

Personal Inclusion

Make people feel like they matter to your business, and bring them into your story whenever possible. A great example of this is Milwaukee’s AJBombers‘ tapping into the local Twitter community. The owner used the social media platform not only to interact with the community and restaurant guests, but in a flagrant act of constructive disruption allowed, no, encouraged people to write their Twitter names in Sharpie on the walls of the restaurant. Among others, you’ll find @brian_mayer in booth 7 as well as on “the bomb.” Even though I don’t get there nearly as often as I’d like, I call booth 7, my booth. He has made us a part of the @AJBombers story.

Want raving fans? Pursue remarkability relentlessly.

  • What are some businesses that you’ve seen that are remarkable and what made them so?
  • What are some other ways to achieve remarkability?

How much will a bad $4 tap beer cost BWW?

Buffalo Wild Wings Review Logo Bayshore MallSo late last night my wife and I decided to go out for a drink.  We hadn’t seen each other much this week and we were both in pretty good spirits.  Our first choice was closed for the night, so we decided to make a stop at another  Bayshore Mall favorite, Buffalo Wild Wings.  We go there all the time.  We’re both wing nuts. She and her Medium-flavored boneless, and I and my traditional Hot BBQ and Caribbean Jerk.  My mouth waters just thinking about it. Anna has a particular affection for their Strawberry Daiquiri (make it a double), and they’ve got a large selection of beer on tap. Ironically, for the selection they have, I sometimes have a hard time finding one of my favorites. When we first started going there right after it opened a year ago, the service was consistently mediocre (at best).  It has been improving over time, but our experience last night was remarkable. Remarkably bad.

Bayshore Buffalo Wild Wings, you’ve been spied.

We arrived at the relatively dead restaurant around 10:30pm and were half-greeted by a hostess saying we could seat ourselves. As we were in good spirits, we didn’t give this much thought and proceeded to a booth by the window. We were pleasantly greeted by our waitress, who for the sake of keeping the innocent nameless, will remain as such.  She was great.  We placed our order on her first visit–some fries, 6 wings, a daiquiri, and a tall New Glarus Totally Naked.  Although it’s not one of my favorite beers, for my taste, it’s among the best tap options there. Before finalizing the order, she verified that they still had that beer.  They did.  Hats off to her for double checking this.  Our drinks and snack arrived quickly, and we enjoyed a great time. Talking, laughing, drinking. All the things that make for being in a good mood. When the waitress cleared the empty trays, she asked if we needed anything else.  Looking at Anna’s still half-full daiquiri and my empty beer glass, I opted for a second. This is where things turned south.

The Totally Naked wasn’t totally hitting the spot tonight so I thought I’d get something else for my second round.  Rather than have the server work through a list, I decided to take a hike from our seat to the bar to see what was available. Yes, it’s actually a big place. It’s a hike.  I saw a tap handle for a local beer that looked familiar. A beer I had a Summerfest.  Or so I thought. (Being a local brewery that I actually like, I won’t name the beer.) I ordered a tall, the waitress put it on our bill, and I made the return journey to my seat. It looked great. Nice pour. About a one inch head. When I took my first sip, my taste buds revolted.  If they weren’t confined to my mouth, they would have probably run away with my nose following close behind. It was awful.  However, I’ve tried enough new beers to know not to rule out a beer by the first sip.  Some of my favorites had to grow on me.  I drank again.  There was no balancing going on here. More revolt.  My brain is saying, “Ok, Brian, this is in your head. It can’t be that bad. Keep drinking. You’ll get used to it. It’ll be fine.” I took another drink, this time with more commitment.  Revolt. It was like Tienanmen Square in 1989. My mouth was laying down in front of the tanks.  There would be no more drinking of this beer.

In case you haven’t picked up on it, I didn’t like the beer.

Keep in mind now that I’m in great spirits.  A great mood. My beer is bad, but I’m still having fun. I look around for my server to see if there’s any chance of a replacement. I don’t see her.  As we talk, I continue to be on the lookout for the waitress.  After about 5 minutes, I gave up and make the trek back to the bar. As luck would have it, Katelyn (sp?), the manager, along with my waitress and the bartender were all there.  Remember, I’m in a good mood. Not a drunk “good mood” (I only had one beer), but an honest-to-goodness, having-a-great-time, good mood. My tone of voice should reflect this. The ensuing conversation went something like this:

Me (to the bartender): “Hi, I just ordered this beer, and it’s apparently not what I thought it was.  I really don’t like it. I gave few sips to make sure, but I really can’t drink it.”
Bartender: Unsure what to do, he looks over at the manager. “He doesnt’ like his beer.”
Me (to the manager): “Yeah it’s apparently not what I thought it was.  I really don’t like it. I gave few sips to make sure, but I just really can’t drink it.”
Katelyn: “Well, is there something wrong with it?”
“Since it’s not what I thought it was, and I’ve never had it before, I wouldn’t really know.”
“Well is it flat or skunked?”
“No it’s not flat, and I don’t know what it’s supposed to taste like. I’ve never had it. It might be exactly how it supposed to be. I wouldn’t know.”
“Well, if there was something wrong with it, I could replace it, but if you just don’t like it, there’s nothing I can do.”
Slight jaw drop. Eyebrows slightly raised.  Stare.  “Really?”
“Yes, if there’s nothing wrong with it ….”
“So you won’t replace it?”
“Not if it’s just that you don’t like it.”
Jaw drops slightly more.  I notice my waitress and the bartender looking very uncomfortable at this point. “Ok, then.”

I could have been “that guy” and got what I wanted, but not wanting to sour my mood, I was too nice.  I left my $4 beer on the bar and walked back to the table.

Having witnessed the entire conversation, my waitress rushed over to our table and began apologizing profusely.  I assured her that I didn’t blame her at all. She had nothing to do with it. She returned again a couple moments later continuing to apologize. I reassured her that I didn’t fault her, and I told her that what her manager didn’t know is who she was dealing with. I said, “I’m active in social media and I’m a customer experience blogger.  I’ll definitely be writing a review.” The look on her face was priceless.

She proceeded to bring the bill, I paid (leaving a nice tip feeling bad for her), and wrote on the top of the receipt, “for your review, go to” We left. I hope she gave it to her manager. Katelyn, if you’re reading this, perhaps you should rethink your policy. I like your food, so I’ll be back, but how many people reading this article will take a pass?  How many people will see this on Twitter, Yelp, Urban Spoon, or Google Places?  How many people are you going to lose over that $4 beer? I know a certain CX Consultant available for hire. You might want to think about it.


I took the matter to twitter this morning with this tweet to get some insight from others.  Was it odd for me to simply hope for a replacement? Should I have expected one? Was this common practice among bars and restaurants? I needed some backup to confirm my suspicions. Thanks to @anthonypsherman @tossasoccerdad @bootyp and @bradkoenig  for your insights.


Here’s the irony of the situation.  I didn’t expect a replacement.  I hoped for one. My history there has shown me that Buffalo Wild Wings needs to learn a thing or two about the customer service aspect of their experience. As a matter of fact, had a replacement been given, I probably would have been just a likely to write a review about how they had finally gotten it together, did a great job, and exceeded my expectations.

Customer Experience Lessons

  • Great CX is in the details.
  • Know who you’re dealing with. Many times you don’t.
  • A small gesture to exceed expectations will make for a remarkably good experience.
  • Ultimately this was a failure of policy.
  • Recognize the “make or break” moments.
So, Bayshore Buffalo Wild Wings, what will be the true cost of that $4 tap beer?

Facebook plays Apple in Predictive Customer Experience

At today’s F8 Developer Conference, Facebook successfully demonstrated one of the key components of remarkable customer experience. Read on.

In full disclosure, I’m not a Facebook fan boy. I more often give them a “whatever” than an “atta boy.”  I’ve had my profile there for about 5 years, I post occasionally, and I comment sporadically. Mostly for me, it’s just there. Having said that ….

Facebook just hit a grand slam.

With the introduction of Timeline and the new Open Graph Apps they have just legitimized Facebook as a way to chronicle your life in a complete, “frictionless” fashion. If that was all they did, they would have hit a homerun.   From my point of view they did two much more significant things:

  • They showed the innovative spirit of a long-lasting company.
  • They gave us a awesome product we didn’t know we wanted. They predicted a need.

The former indicates that they will be around long-term. A much needed reassurance if I’m going to let them help me write my life story. The ability for a massive industry leader with 800 millions users to stay on the cutting edge of it’s own market is the most important key to it’s long term success. They won’t be going the way of Palm, Blackberry, MySpace, or AOL. At least not anytime soon.

The latter is where they played an Apple. They met a need we did’t know we had. Apple has done this over and over. Each new device meets a new need and/or creates a new market. Without the iPad, there IS no tablet market. They’re not listening to their customers. They’d be way behind the curve if they did. They are predicting their customer’s needs, and providing the solution before the need become apparent. Apple, and now Facebook, is doing this on a grand, product-wide scale, but it doesn’t have to be so grand to have remarkable effects. Oftentimes, it’s the little things that can make a big difference.

Having your people, product, processes, and policies customer-focused is the cake of customer experience strategy. Need prediction is at the frosting.  It’s what gets people’s attention,and gets them talking.  Meeting a need your customer didn’t know they had shows them that you are genuinely interested in helping them.  You’ve got to have the substance, or the frosting is meaningless.  The cake will bring you loyalty, but the frosting gets people talking. If you want to stand above your crowded market, predict your customer’s need and create a point within their experience to meet that need.

Don’t just build a better mousetrap, send ’em the cheese.

Now what do you have to add?